Why the Whistle?
Well, on another return-from-Britt trip in the early 1980’s, I had left later in the day and was running west very late at night. It was a warm summer night, and the wind was at my back but I was absolutely beat. I figured it was something like 2 AM. My plan was to just pull off in the rather tall grass alongside the interstate, cover the bike with a dark green poncho, and lay the sleeping bag out next to it. I’d be far enough off the road to be invisible in the darkness. I would wake up at first light, a little more rested, and finish the run to Colorado.
I pulled off, waited until there were no headlights approaching and rode slowly into the tall grass. It did look tall, soft and comfortable. Suddenly I dropped about two feet into a drainage ditch! The sloping side pitched me and the bike over and I ended up face-down, with one arm folded over my back, and the Slash Five squarely on top of me! I could not move.
The bike quickly quit running and, in the quiet, I could smell hot metal and leaking gas. I estimate I spent 20 minutes inching my way out of the trap I was in. As I worked my way out, as I paused to rest, I had time to reflect on how “trapped” I was. Had I been hurt, say with a broken bone or two, I absolutely would not have been able to get out from under the bike. I probably would have remained there until the highway department came by to mow the grass!
I’d done some wilderness survival training with the Sierra Club in high school and remembered that a whistle was one of the ‘ten essentials’ that should be carried on any wilderness outing. The reason is that while an injured person cannot yell for a long period of time; a whistle makes a much more distinct, louder noise, with far less effort by the person in distress.
I ended up being able to ride the bike out of the ditch and suddenly found I was nicely awake and able to finish the trip riding through the night. Since then I usually have a whistle in my coat pocket. I’m also much more cautious riding through tall grass where I can’t see where the front wheel is going!